Ann Arbor, Michigan

Ann Arbor is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan and the county seat of Washtenaw County. It is the state's seventh largest city with a population of 114,024 as of the 2000 Census, of which 36,892 (32%) are university or college students. The city, which is part of the Detroit-Ann Arbor-Flint, MI CSA, is believed to be named for the spouses of the city's founders and for the stands of trees in the area.

Ann Arbor was founded in January 1824 by John Allen and Elisha Rumsey, both of whom were land speculators. On May 25, 1824, the town plot was registered with Wayne County as "Annarbour". The city became the seat of Washtenaw County in 1827, and was incorporated as a village in 1833. The town became a regional transportation hub in 1839 with the arrival of the Michigan Central Railroad, and was chartered as a city in 1851. During the 1960s and 1970s, the city gained a reputation as a center for liberal politics. During the 20th century, the economy of Ann Arbor underwent a gradual shift from a manufacturing base to a service and technology base, which accelerated in the 1970s and 1980s.

Ann Arbor is home to the prestigious University of Michigan, which was established in the city in 1837. As the dominant institution of higher learning in the city and one of the top public universities in the world, the university provides Ann Arbor with a distinct college-town atmosphere. The university shapes Ann Arbor's economy significantly as it employs about 30,000 workers, including about 7,500 in the medical center. The city's economy is also centered on high-technology, with several companies drawn to the area by the university's research and development money, and by its graduates. On the other hand, Ann Arbor has increasingly found itself grappling with the effects of sharply rising land values and gentrification, as well as urban sprawl stretching far into the outlying countryside.


Ann Arbor was founded in January 1824 by John Allen and Elisha Rumsey, both of whom were land speculators. On May 25, 1824, the town plot was registered with Wayne County as "Annarbour"; this represents the earliest known use of the town's name. There are various accounts concerning the origin of the settlement's name; one states that Allen and Rumsey decided to name it for their spouses, both named Ann, and for the stands of burr oak in the 640 acres (260 ha) of land they had purchased for $800 from the federal government. Regional Michigan Ojibwa named the settlement kaw-goosh-kaw-nick, after the sound of Allen's saw mill.

Ann Arbor became the seat of Washtenaw County in 1827, and was incorporated as a village in 1833. The Ann Arbor Land Company, a group of speculators, set aside 40 acres (16 ha) of undeveloped land and offered it to the State of Michigan as the site of the state capital, but lost the bid to Lansing. In 1837, the property was accepted instead as the site of the University of Michigan, forever linking Ann Arbor and its history with the university. The town became a regional transportation hub in 1839 with the arrival of the Michigan Central Railroad, and in 1851 Ann Arbor was chartered as a city.

During the 1960s and 1970s, the city gained a reputation as an important center for liberal politics. Presidential candidate John F. Kennedy unveiled his Peace Corps proposal in 1960 at the University of Michigan, and President Lyndon B. Johnson first called for a "Great Society" as the university's commencement speaker in 1964. The city also became a locus for left-wing activism, and served as a hub for the civil-rights movement and anti-Vietnam War movement, as well as the student movement. The first major meetings of the national left-wing campus group Students for a Democratic Society took place in Ann Arbor in 1960; in 1965, the city was home to the first U.S. teach-in against the Vietnam War. During the ensuing fifteen years, many countercultural and New Left enterprises sprang up and developed strong constituencies within the city.

These influences washed into municipal politics during the early and mid-1970s when three members of the local, progressive Human Rights Party (HRP) won city-council seats on the strength of the student vote. During their time on the council, HRP representatives fought for measures including pioneering antidiscrimination ordinances, measures decriminalizing marijuana possession, and a rent-control ordinance; many of these remain in effect in modified form. Alongside these liberal and left-wing efforts, a small group of conservative institutions were born in Ann Arbor. These include Word of God (established in 1967), a charismatic inter-denominational movement of national scope; and the Thomas More Law Center (established in 1999), a leading religious-conservative advocacy group.

The economy of Ann Arbor underwent a gradual shift from a manufacturing base to a service and technology base during the 20th century, which accelerated in the 1970s and 1980s. At the same time, the downtown transformed from one dominated by retail establishments dealing in staple goods to one composed mainly of eateries, cafés, bars, clubs, and specialty shops. Over the past several decades, Ann Arbor has increasingly found itself grappling with the effects of sharply rising land values and gentrification, as well as urban sprawl stretching far into the outlying countryside. On November 4, 2003, voters approved a greenbelt plan under which the city government would buy development rights to pieces of land adjacent to Ann Arbor to preserve them from sprawling development. Since then, a vociferous local debate has hinged on how and whether to accommodate and guide development within city limits.

Geography and cityscape

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has an area of 27.7 square miles (71.7 km²); 27.0 square miles (70.0 km²) is land and 0.7 square miles (1.7 km²) or 2.43% is water, much of which is part of the Huron River. Ann Arbor is about 35 miles (56 km) west of Detroit. Ann Arbor Charter Township is adjacent, on the city's north and east sides. Ann Arbor is situated on the Huron River, in a productive agricultural and fruit-growing region. The landscape of Ann Arbor consists of hills and valleys, with the terrain becoming steeper near the Huron River. The elevation ranges from about 750 feet (230 m) along the Huron River to over 1,000 feet (305 m) on the city's west side near I-94. Generally, the west-central and northwestern parts of the city, and UM's North Campus, are the highest parts of the city; the lowest parts are along the Huron River and in the southeast. The elevation is about 839 feet (256 m) at Ann Arbor Municipal Airport, which is located south of the city at .

Ann Arbor's "Tree Town" nickname stems from the dense forestation of its parks and residential areas. The city holds more than 50,000 trees sited along city streets and an equal number in city parks. In recent years, the emerald ash borer has destroyed many of the city's approximately 10,500 ash trees. The city contains 147 municipal parks, ranging from small neighborhood parks to large recreation areas, with several large city parks and a university park bordering sections of the Huron River. The largest are Argo Park, Riverside Park, County Farm Park, and Gallup Park (near the Huron Parkway), while Fuller Recreation Area, near the University Hospital complex, contains sports fields, pedestrian and bike paths, and swimming pools. Nichols Arboretum, which is operated by the University of Michigan (and known locally as "The Arboretum" or simply "The Arb"), is a 123 acre (50 ha) preserve containing hundreds of plant and tree species on the east side of the city near the university's central campus.

The Kerrytown Shops, Main Street Business District, the State Street Business District, and the South University Business District are commercial areas in downtown. Three commercial areas south of downtown include the areas near I-94 and Ann Arbor-Saline Road, Briarwood Mall, and the South Industrial area. Other commercial areas include the Arborland/Washtenaw Avenue and Packard Road merchants on the east side, the Plymouth Road area in the northeast, and the Westgate/West Stadium areas on the west side. The downtown contains a mix of 19th and early 20th century structures and modern-style buildings, as well as a farmers' market in the Kerrytown district. The city's commercial districts are composed mostly of two to four-story structures, although the downtown and the area near Briarwood Mall contain a small number of high-rise buildings.

Ann Arbor's residential neighborhoods contain a range of architectural styles, from classic 19th and early 20th century designs to ranch-style houses. Contemporary-style houses are farther from the downtown district. Surrounding the University of Michigan campus are houses and apartment complexes occupied primarily by student renters. Tower Plaza, a 26-story condominium building located between the University of Michigan campus and downtown, is the tallest building in Ann Arbor. The 19th century buildings and streetscape of the Old West Side neighborhood have been preserved virtually intact; in 1972, the district was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and it is further protected by city ordinances and a nonprofit preservation group.


Ann Arbor typically has a Midwestern humid continental seasonal climate, which is influenced by the Great Lakes. There are four distinct seasons, with winters being cold with moderate snowfall, while summers can be warm and humid. The area experiences lake effect weather, primarily in the form of increased cloudiness during late fall and early winter. The highest average temperature is in July at 83 °F (28 °C), while the lowest average temperature is in January at 16 °F (−9 °C). However, summer temperatures can top 90 °F (32 °C), and winter temperatures can drop below 0 °F (−17 °C). Average monthly precipitation ranges from 2 to 4 inches (44 to 92 mm), with the heaviest occurring during the summer months. Snowfall, which normally occurs from November to April, ranges from 1 to 10 inches (3 to 25 cm) per month. The highest recorded temperature was 105 °F (40.6 °C) on July 24, 1934, and the lowest recorded temperature was −22.0 °F (−30 °C) on January 19, 1994.


The University of Michigan shapes Ann Arbor's economy significantly. It employs about 30,000 workers, including about 7,500 in the medical center. Other employers are drawn to the area by the university's research and development money, and by its graduates. High tech, health services and biotechnology are other major components of the city's economy; numerous medical offices, laboratories, and associated companies are located in the city. Automobile manufacturers, such as General Motors, Toyota, Subaru, and Ford, also employ residents.

Many high-tech companies are located in the city. During the 1980s, Ann Arbor Terminals manufactured a video-display terminal called the Ann Arbor Ambassador. Other high-tech companies in the area include Arbor Networks (provider of Internet traffic engineering and security systems), Arbortext (provider of XML-based publishing software), JSTOR (the digital scholarly journal archive), MediaSpan (provider of software and online services for the media industries), and ProQuest, which includes UMI.

Websites and online media companies in or near the city include All Media Guide, the Weather Underground, and Zattoo. Ann Arbor is also the site of the Michigan Information Technology Center (MITC), whose offices house Internet2 and the Merit Network, a not-for-profit research and education computer network. Ann Arbor is also home to the headquarters of Google's AdWords program—the company's primary revenue stream.

Pfizer, the city's second largest employer, operated a large pharmaceutical research facility on the northeast side of Ann Arbor. On January 22, 2007, Pfizer announced it would close operations in Ann Arbor by the end of 2008. The facility was previously operated by Warner-Lambert and, before that, Parke-Davis. The city is the home of other research and engineering centers, including those of General Dynamics and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Other research centers sited in the city are the United States Environmental Protection Agency's National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Laboratory and the Toyota Technical Center.

Borders Books, originally a two-room shop upstairs above 211 South State, was opened in 1969 with a stock of used books by brothers Tom and Louis Borders. The Borders chain is still based in the city, as is its flagship store. Domino's Pizza's headquarters is near Ann Arbor on Domino's Farms, a 271 acre (109 hectare) Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired complex just northeast of the city. Flint Ink Corp., another Ann Arbor-based company, was until recently the world's largest privately held ink manufacturer (in October 2005, it was acquired by Stuttgart-based XSYS Print Solutions). Another Ann Arbor-based company is Zingerman's Delicatessen, which serves sandwiches, and has developed businesses under a variety of brand names. Zingerman's has grown into a family of companies which offers a variety of products (bake shop, mail order, creamery) and services (business education).

Many cooperative enterprises were founded in the city; among those that remain are the People's Food Co-op and the Inter-Cooperative Council at the University of Michigan, a student-housing cooperative founded in 1937. The North American Students of Cooperation (NASCO) is an international association of cooperatives headquartered in Ann Arbor. There are also three cohousing communities—Sunward, Great Oak, and Touchstone—located immediately to the west of the city limits.


Many Ann Arbor cultural attractions and events are sponsored by the University of Michigan. Several performing arts groups and facilities are on the university's campus, as are museums dedicated to art, archaeology, and natural history and sciences (see Museums at the University of Michigan). Regional and local performing arts groups not associated with the university include the Ann Arbor Civic Theatre; the Arbor Opera Theater; the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra; the Ann Arbor Ballet Theater; the Ann Arbor Civic Ballet (established in 1954 as Michigan's first chartered ballet company); and Performance Network, which operates a downtown theater frequently offering new or nontraditional plays.

The Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum, located in a renovated and expanded historic downtown fire station, contains more than 250 interactive exhibits featuring science and technology. Multiple art galleries exist in the city, notably in the downtown area and around the University of Michigan campus. Aside from a large restaurant scene in the Main Street, South State Street, and South University Avenue areas, Ann Arbor ranks first among U.S. cities in the number of booksellers and books sold per capita. The Ann Arbor District Library maintains four branch outlets in addition to its main downtown building; in 2008 a new branch building replaced the branch located in Plymouth Mall. This new branch is called the Traverwood Branch, and opened on June 30, 2008. The city is also home to the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library.

Several annual events – many of them centered on performing and visual arts – draw visitors to Ann Arbor. One such event is the Ann Arbor Art Fairs, a set of four concurrent juried fairs held on downtown streets, which began in 1960. Scheduled on Wednesday through Saturday in the third week of July, the fairs draw upward of half a million visitors. One event that is not related to visual and performing arts is Hash Bash, held on the first Saturday of April, ostensibly in support of the reform of marijuana laws. It has been celebrated since 1971.

Ann Arbor has a major scene for college sports, notably at the University of Michigan, a member of the Big Ten Conference. Several well-known college sports facilities exist in the city, including Michigan Stadium, the largest American football stadium in the world with a 107,501 seating capacity. The stadium is colloquially known as "The Big House." Crisler Arena and Yost Ice Arena play host to the school's basketball and ice hockey teams, respectively. Concordia University, a member of the NAIA, also fields sports teams.

A person from Ann Arbor is called an "Ann Arborite," and many long-time residents call themselves "townies." The city itself is often called ("A-squared") or A2 ("A two"), and, less commonly, Tree Town. Recently, some youths have taken to calling Ann Arbor Ace Deuce or simply The Deuce. With tongue-in-cheek reference to the city's liberal political leanings, some occasionally refer to Ann Arbor as The People's Republic of Ann Arbor or 25 square miles surrounded by reality, the latter phrase being adapted from Wisconsin Governor Lee Dreyfus's description of Madison, Wisconsin. Ann Arbor sometimes appears on citation indexes as an author, instead of a location, often with the academic degree MI, a misunderstanding of the abbreviation for Michigan.


The Ann Arbor News, owned by the Michigan-based Booth Newspapers chain, is the major daily newspaper serving Ann Arbor. Other established publications in the city include the Ann Arbor Observer, a monthly magazine with features covering local culture, politics, family life, business and history, as well as a comprehensive calendar of events; Current, an entertainment guide, the "Communicator", a local high school paper, and Ann Arbor Paper, a free monthly that has ceased production. The University of Michigan campus area is served by many student publications, including the independent Michigan Daily. The Ann Arbor Business Review covers local business in the area. Car and Driver magazine and Automobile Magazine are also based in Ann Arbor.

The three major AM radio stations based in Ann Arbor are WAAM 1600, a news and talk station; WLBY 1290, an Air America Radio affiliate; and WTKA 1050, which is primarily a sports station. The city's FM stations include NPR affiliate WUOM 91.7; country station WWWW 102.9; adult-alternative station WQKL 107.1. Freeform station WCBN-FM 88.3 is a local community radio station operated by the students of the University of Michigan featuring noncommercial, eclectic music and public-affairs programming. The city is also served by public and commercial radio broadcasters in Ypsilanti, the Lansing/Jackson area, Detroit, Windsor, and Toledo.

WPXD channel 31, an affiliate of the ION Television network, is licensed to the city. Community Television Network (CTN) is a city-provided cable television channel with production facilities open to city residents and nonprofit organizations. Detroit and Toledo-area radio and television stations also serve Ann Arbor, and stations from Lansing and Windsor, Ontario, can be heard in parts of the area.


As of the 2000 census, there were 114,024 people, 45,693 households, and 21,704 families residing in the city. The population density was 4,221.1 people per square mile (1,629.9/km²). There were 47,218 housing units at an average density of 1,748.0 per square mile (675.0/km²), making it less dense than inner-ring Detroit suburbs like Oak Park and Ferndale (and than Detroit proper), but denser than outer-ring suburbs like Livonia. The racial makeup of the city was 74.68% White, 8.83% Black or African American, 0.29% Native American, 11.90% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 1.21% from other races, and 3.05% from two or more races. 3.34% of the population were Hispanics or Latinos. 14.9% were of German, 8.5% English and 7.9% Irish ancestry according to Census 2000. 80.6% spoke English, 3.2% Chinese or Mandarin, 3.1% Spanish, 1.9% Korean, 1.2% German, 1.1% Japanese and 1.0% French as their first language. Because of the pull of the university, the city has one of the highest foreign-born population percentages in the state sitting at 16.6%.

Out of the 45,693 households, 23.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 37.8% were married couples living together, 7.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 52.5% were nonfamilies. 35.5% of households were made up of individuals and 6.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.22 and the average family size was 2.90. The age distribution was 16.8% under 18, 26.8% from 18 to 24, 31.2% from 25 to 44, 17.3% from 45 to 64, and 7.9% were 65 or older. The median age was 28 years. For every 100 females there were 97.7 males; while for every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.4 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $46,299, and the median income for a family was $71,293. Males had a median income of $48,880 versus $36,561 for females. The per capita income for the city was $26,419. About 4.6% of families and 16.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 7.3% of those under age 18 and 5.1% of those age 65 or over.

Ann Arbor's crime rate was below the national average in 2000. The violent crime rate was further below the national average than the property crime rate; they were 48% and 11% less, respectively.

Law and government

Ann Arbor has a Council-manager form of government. The mayor, who is elected every even-numbered year, is the presiding officer of the City Council and has the power to appoint all Council committee members as well as board and commission members, with the approval of the City Council. The mayor of Ann Arbor is John Hieftje (Democrat), who has served in that capacity since the 2000 election. The city council has ten members, two from each of the city's five wards, with the mayor wielding the tie-breaking vote. Council members serve two-year terms; half the council is elected in annual elections. City operations are managed by the City Administrator, who is chosen by the city council.

Ann Arbor is in the 15th Congressional district, and is represented by Representative John Dingell (Democrat). On the state level, the city is in the 18th district in the Michigan Senate. In the Michigan State House of Representatives, the city of Ann Arbor is in the 53rd district, while northeastern Ann Arbor and Ann Arbor Township are in the 52nd district. As the seat of Washtenaw County, the city is the location of the county's trial, civil, and criminal courts. Ann Arbor is the site of a United States district court for the Eastern District of Michigan courthouse, whose downtown building also houses a post office.


Left-wing politics have been particularly strong in municipal government since the 1960s – an orientation evident in the passage of strong antidiscrimination ordinances. Voters also approved charter amendments that have lessened the penalties for possession of marijuana (1974), and that aim to protect access to abortion in the city should it ever become illegal in the State of Michigan (1990). In 1974, Kathy Kozachenko's victory in an Ann Arbor city-council race made her the country's first openly homosexual candidate to win public office. In 1975, Ann Arbor became the first U.S. city to use instant-runoff voting for a mayoral race. Adopted through a ballot initiative sponsored by the local Human Rights Party, which feared a splintering of the liberal vote, the process was repealed in 1976 after use in only one election. As of December 2006, Democrats hold the mayorship and all council seats.


Higher education

The University of Michigan is the dominant institution of higher learning in Ann Arbor, providing the city with a distinct college-town atmosphere. Much of the campus is adjacent to and intermixed with the city's downtown district. Because the campus and the city expanded side-by-side, there is often no firm divide between the two, with university buildings scattered through much of the city center.

Other local colleges and universities are Cleary University, a private business school; Concordia University, a Lutheran liberal-arts institution, Washtenaw Community College, and Eastern Michigan University. Ave Maria School of Law, a Catholic institution established by Domino's Pizza cofounder Tom Monaghan, opened near northeastern Ann Arbor in 2000. There were plans to establish Ave Maria University on land occupied by Domino's Farms. However, due to conflicts with local zoning authorities, the new campus is under construction near Naples, Florida. In February 2007, it was announced that Ave Maria School of Law will move to southwest Florida in 2009.

Primary and secondary schools

The Ann Arbor Public School District handles local public education. The system – which enrolls 16,974 students (2005/2006 September head count) – consists of twenty-one elementary schools, five middle schools, three traditional high schools (Pioneer, Huron, and Skyline), and three alternative high schools (Community High, Stone School, and Roberto Clemente). The district also operates a K-8 open school program, Ann Arbor Open, out of the former Mack School. This program is open to all families who live within the district. Ann Arbor Public Schools also operates a preschool and family center, with programs starting as early as birth for at-risk infants and other programs for at-risk children before kindergarten. The district has a preschool center with both free and tuition-based programs for preschoolers in the district. Ann Arbor is home to more than 20 private schools, including the Rudolf Steiner School of Ann Arbor, Clonlara School and Greenhills School, a prep school near Concordia University.


Health systems

The University of Michigan Medical Center, the preeminent health facility in the city, took the #13 slot in U.S. News and World Report for best hospitals in the U.S., as of August 2008. The University of Michigan Health System (UMHS) includes University Hospital, C.S. Mott Children's Hospital and Women's Hospital in its core complex. UMHS also operates out-patient clinics and facilities throughout the city. The area's other major medical centers include a large facility operated by the Department of Veterans Affairs in Ann Arbor, and Saint Joseph Mercy Hospital in nearby Superior Township.


The city provides sewage disposal and water supply services, with water coming from the Huron River and groundwater sources. There are two water-treatment plants, one main and three outlying reservoirs, four pump stations, and two water towers. These facilities serve the city, which is divided into five water districts. The city's water department also operates four dams along the Huron River, two of which provide hydroelectric power. The city also offers waste management services, with Recycle Ann Arbor's handling recycling service. Other utilities are provided by private entities. Electrical power and gas are provided by DTE Energy. AT&T, the successor to Michigan Bell, Ameritech, and SBC Communications, is the primary wired telephone service provider for the area. Phone service is also available from various national wireless companies. Cable TV service is primarily provided by Comcast.


Major highways

The city is belted by three freeways: I-94, which runs along the southern portion of the city; US 23, which primarily runs along the eastern edge of Ann Arbor; and M-14, which runs along the northern edge of the city. Other nearby highways include US 12, M-17, and M-153. The streets in downtown Ann Arbor conform to a grid pattern, though this pattern is less common in the surrounding areas. Major roads branch out from the downtown district like spokes on a wheel to the highways surrounding the city. Several of the major surface arteries lead to the I-94/M-14 juncture in the west, US 23 in the east, and the city's southern areas.

Bus service

The Ann Arbor Transportation Authority (AATA), which brands itself as "The Ride," operates public bus services throughout Ann Arbor and nearby Ypsilanti. AATA has recently introduced hybrid electric buses to its fleet of 69 and is the first public transit operator in the Midwest to state its intention to convert to all hybrid electric buses. A separate zero-fare bus service operates within the University of Michigan campuses, and the AATA runs a free Link Bus connecting central campus and downtown during the school year. A downtown bus depot served by Greyhound Lines provides out-of-town bus service, and is the city's only remaining example of the Streamline Moderne architectural style. Megabus has twice daily direct service to Chicago, Illinois, while a bus service provided by Amtrak connects to East Lansing and Toledo, Ohio, though only for rail passengers making connections.

The Michigan Flyer, a service operated by Indian Trails, offers bus service to Detroit Metro Airport, Jackson, and East Lansing.


Ann Arbor Municipal Airport is a small general aviation airport located south of I-94. Detroit Metropolitan Airport, the area's large international airport, is about 28 miles (45 km) east of the city, in Romulus. Willow Run Airport east of the city near Ypsilanti serves freight, corporate, and general aviation clients.


The city was a major rail hub, notably for freight traffic between Toledo and ports north of Chicago, Illinois, from 1878 to 1982; however, the Ann Arbor Railroad also sold 1.1 million passenger tickets in 1913. The city was also served by the Michigan Central Railroad starting in 1837. Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti Street Railway, Michigan's first interurban, served the city from 1891 to 1929. Amtrak provides service to Ann Arbor, operating its Wolverine three times daily in each direction between Chicago and Pontiac, via Detroit. Rail service is provided at the Ann Arbor Train Station; the present-day station neighbors the city's old Michigan Central Depot, which was renovated as a restaurant in 1969. There have been plans to build a commuter rail link between Ann Arbor and Detroit, with the U.S. federal government providing $100 million to enable its development. A more recent plan, called "Wally," to provide passenger rail service between Howell and Ann Arbor starting in the summer of 2007 has been delayed for at least a year.

Bike routes

The city has a system of bike routes and paths and includes a section of the planned Washtenaw County Border-to-Border Trail.

Sister cities

Ann Arbor has seven sister cities:

See also


Further reading

External links

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